Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier spent four seasons with the team as a defensive coordinator and has holdover assistants sprinkled throughout his coaching staff. It is now clear, however, that Frazier's promotion in no way ensured continuity within the Vikings roster.
Frazier released left tackle Bryant McKinnie at the start of training camp, and news is beginning to trickle out about the departures of some other stalwarts of the Brad Childress era. Linebacker/special teams ace Heath Farwell confirmed to multiple media outlets, including 1500ESPN.com, that he has been released. Meanwhile, agent Ralph Cindrich tweeted that tight end/fullback Jeff Dugan will be a free agent as of this evening, implying he will be released.
Dugan confirmed the move to Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
Reserves throughout their careers, Dugan and Farwell were nevertheless among the Vikings' most tenured players. Dugan was a 7th-round draft choice in 2004 and Farwell joined the team as an undrafted rookie in 2005. Only two players, tight end Jim Kleinsasser and linebacker E.J. Henderson, have been with the Vikings longer than Dugan, and both he and Farwell were the kind of easy-going glue players that Childress and former coach Mike Tice wanted in the locker room.
That's not a knock on Frazier and his staff for moving on. It's difficult to develop young talent if you keep veterans as backups. Schemes change, players age and circumstances transform. Dugan and Farwell are dependable, of high character and unfortunately for them, they are replaceable.
If there was any question, it's now clear that Frazier will be blazing his own trail despite his relatively deep roots within the organization.